USS Chicago (1885)

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USS Chicago
USS Chicago
Career (U.S.) 100x35px
Name: USS Chicago
Namesake: Chicago, Illinois
Builder: John Roach & Sons
Laid down: 29 December 1883
Launched: 5 December 1885
Sponsored by: Edith Cleborne
Commissioned: 17 April 1889
Decommissioned: 30 September 1923
Reclassified: CA-14, 17 July 1921
CL-14, 8 August 1921
IX-5, 16 June 1928
Fate: sold/foundered (sunk) in Pacific
General characteristics
Displacement: 4,500 long tons (4,600 t)
Length: 342 ft 2 in (104.29 m)
Beam: 48 ft 3 in (14.71 m)
Draft: 19 ft (5.8 m)
Propulsion: 2 × vertical triple-expansion reciprocating steam engines,
2 × screw propellors
Speed: 14 kn (16 mph; 26 km/h)
Capacity: 870 tons of coal
Complement: 33 officers and 376 enlisted men
Armament: 4 × 8 in (200 mm)/30 cal Mark 2 guns (4x1)
8 × 6 in (150 mm)/30 cal Mark 2 guns (8x1)
2 × 5 in (130 mm)/31 cal Mark 1 guns (2x1)
1 × 3-pounder (47 mm (1.9 in))
2 × 1-pounders (37 mm (1.5 in))
2 × .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns
  • Deck: 4 in (100 mm)

The first USS Chicago (later CA-14) was a protected cruiser of the United States Navy, the largest of the original three authorized by Congress for the "New Navy".

She was launched on 5 December 1885 by John Roach & Sons of Chester, Pennsylvania, sponsored by Edith Cleborne (daughter of Navy Medical Director Cuthbert J. Cleborne) and commissioned on 17 April 1889, Captain Henry Bellows Robeson in command.

Pre-World War I

On 7 December 1889, Chicago departed Boston for Lisbon, Portugal, arriving on 21 December. The cruiser served in European and Mediterranean waters as the flagship of the Squadron of Evolution until 31 May 1890, when she sailed from Funchal, Madeira to call at Brazilian and West Indian ports before returning to New York on 29 July.

Chicago operated along the east coasts of North and South America and in the Caribbean as flagship of the Squadron of Evolution — and later as flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron — until 1893. After taking part in the International Naval Review in Hampton Roads in April, she left New York on 18 June 1893 to cruise in European and Mediterranean waters as flagship of the European station. During this period the ship was commanded by Alfred Thayer Mahan, already famous as a naval strategist. Chicago returned to New York on 20 March 1895, and was placed out of commission there on 1 May.

Recommissioned on 1 December 1898, Chicago made a short cruise in the Caribbean before sailing for the European Station on 18 April. She returned to New York on 27 September and participated in the naval parade and Dewey celebration of 2 October 1899. Chicago sailed from New York on 25 November for an extended cruise, as flagship of the South Atlantic Station until early July 1901, then as flagship of the European Station. With the squadron, she cruised in northern European, Mediterranean, and Caribbean waters until 1 August 1903, when she proceeded to Oyster Bay, New York, and the Presidential Review.

From 3 December 1903-15 August 1904, Chicago was out of commission at Boston undergoing repairs. After operating along the northeast coast, the cruiser departed Newport News on 17 November for Valparaíso, Chile, arriving on 28 December. There, on 1 January 1905, she relieved cruiser New York as flagship of the Pacific Squadron and for three years operated off the west coasts of North and South America, in the Caribbean, and to Hawaii. In 1906, she played a key role in the evacuation of San Francisco during the Great Earthquake and Fire.[1] The removal of 20,000 refugees to Tiburon by this ship was unparalleled and unsurpassed until the 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk.

On 8 January 1908, Chicago departed San Diego for the east coast and in May joined the Naval Academy Practice Squadron for the summer cruise along the northeast coast until 27 August, when she went into reserve. Chicago was recommissioned the next summer (14 May-28 August 1909) to operate with the Practice Squadron along the east coast, then returned to Annapolis. On 4 January 1910, she left the Academy for Boston arriving on 23 January. She then served reserve with the Massachusetts Naval Militia until 12 April 1916, and with the Pennsylvania Naval Militia from 26 April 1916-April 1917.

World War I and beyond

On 6 April 1917, Chicago was placed in full commission at Philadelphia and reported to Submarine Force, Atlantic, as flagship. On 10 July 1919, she departed New York to join Cruiser Division 2 (CruDiv 2), as flagship in the Pacific. She was reclassified CA-14 in 1920 and then CL-14 in 1921. From December 1919-September 1923, she served with Submarine Division 14 and as tender at the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor.

Chicago was decommissioned at Pearl Harbor on 30 September 1923; served as a receiving ship there until 1935; renamed Alton on 16 July 1928 and reclassified IX-5; and sold on 15 May 1936. Alton foundered in mid-Pacific in July while being towed from Honolulu to San Francisco.


This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

  • Taylor, Michael J.H. (1990). Jane's Fighting Ships of World War I. Studio. ISBN 1-85170-378-0. 

External links

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